Yesterday we drove north to Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, anticipating a pleasurable stroll around the park followed by a lunch box meal at the Cornell Café adjacent to the main building. Supposedly the museum opens at 10:00am on Sundays. We arrived at 10:30 to find police directing traffic and Festival signs emblazoned along the road. It appeared we’d come during the Hatsume Fair, a weekend event that must draw thousands. And the gates didn’t open until 11.
Annoyed that we’d have to stand around for a half hour and yet excited by the prospect of something new to do, we waited in line until the fair opened. It cost $12 per person to get in, and that included the festival tents, museum, and grounds. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t serving the normal menu, we realized as we selected a fixed meal. I got teriyaki salmon and barbecued chicken with rice. We sat outdoors on the terrace overlooking the lake, a serene spot with a fabulous view.
The whole park imbues the visitor with a sense of serenity. Lakes and waterfalls, stone lanterns, rock gardens with combed gravel designs, and winding paths invite exploration. During the festival, we were allowed inside the simple one-story Japanese house which normally costs extra. We saw the sliding panel doors and various rooms. I was fascinated by the toilet and shower facilities and the kitchen. The rooms were arranged around a central courtyard, again with raked pebbles instead of grass.
All of the bushes and shrubs throughout the park are carefully shaped and pruned. It was a perfect day, breezy with low humidity, and fluffs of clouds providing momentary shade. Temperatures in the seventies didn’t allow things to get too hot. We paused by the bonsai gardens to view the turtles and large golden (Koi?) fish swimming around the murky brown waters. Have you noticed the resemblance between a turtle head and a snake? Ugh.
Booming sounds reached us from the festival field, where you could watch a thundering Taiko Drum performance or a martial arts demo. Yamato Island housed a Tea Ceremony. Food vendors offered everything from hot dogs to vegetable tempura and soba noodles. People roamed around costumed like Anime characters, while various Japanese goods could be bought at the different stands.
We left by 2:00pm, and a line of cars snaked all the way out to the main street with people waiting to get in. The crowds were incredible. We’d happened upon the festival purely by chance, yet our arrival time couldn’t have been planned better.
Nonetheless, next time we go, we’ll choose a weekday when the peaceful gardens will be truly tranquil.